How do I get my elderly dad to be more active and socialize with friends and family?

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My parent's are both in their late 70's. Mom is pretty healthy and is active. Dad has been depressed off and on for the last couple of years. He has been on meds. Sometimes they seem to help other times not so much. His doctors have told him he is fine and is making himself old. Within the last 2 years it has gotten to the point that he has more bad days then good. He can do things if he tries. But he doesn't want too. He flat out refuses to go places sometimes. He struggles with speaking due to a minor stroke he had several years ago. So I know that bothers him And I think he gets embarrassed by using a cane or a walker. Which he goes back n forth between the 2. Mom is always trying to get him to exercise and walk around the house. She makes plans to play cards he fusses about it but then does it. Mom has gotten to the point where she wants us kids to get on him about walking, etc. But we feel we can't make him do something he doesn't want to do. It is making it hard on me as my siblings do not see them as often or talk to them as much as I do. When I am there I do not mention it. As I feel I don't want to become the enemy. He fusses about going out to lunch but he hasn't flat out refused with me. I am just wondering how I can handle all this. When Dad doesn't want to do things-things he can do but doesn't want to. And how to deal with Mom and her continuing to ask me to tell him he has to walk, exercise, etc. He does get angry sometimes with her when she tells or asks him to do things. They are very old school Catholic. Which I respect. But when I mention maybe going to a counselor Mom insists she talks the Parish Priest. Which seems ok to a point but it just doesn't seem to be what they need. I am trying to get my sisters more involved but isn't going as well I hoped for. We all live within 15 min drive from them. So its not as they are out of town. I listen to Mom at least once or twice a week talk about how he doesn't want to do anything. I just listen and really don't respond with any thing other then I know Mom. I'm sorry. If there is anybody that can point me in a direction on how to get help with this I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!!

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
If they are in their late 70's just see them all you can and do the best you can. I don't know how close you and your father are but maybe you could just have very polite and father to daughter talk. Also remember, if he is on medication, the medication can be causing a lot of the problems as far as him just wanting to sit around. I was on meds once for about 6 months and they kept me sleepy and energetic.
Blmstg, your dad gets enough nagging from his wife so I wouldn't add to that. BUT that doesn't mean there isn't something that you can do to help. I don't know what state you live in, but if it's not 100 degrees outside would he go with you to a park or the library maybe? What is it that makes him happy? What activities did he used to do that he's stopped for some reason? Maybe it's time to start a hobby with him just the two of you. At this point I don't think it has to be an 'activity' type of hobby, just something that makes him happy. Once he's feeling better mentally he'd be more likely to get up off the couch for the family. My mom died this last April and left my dad alone after 63 years. All three of us kids have stepped up to help him through the loneliness as much as possible. One of the new things that dad's doing is flying remote controlled airplanes with my sister's husband and kids. He's also gone out shooting with his nephews which he likes. My point is, these are things that he never did when my mom was alive so they're 'new' things which he found out he likes. Find what turns your dad on and make it happen is all I can suggest. That, and make sure it's not his meds making him be this way. Good luck, and have fun.
You might set up a private meeting with the parish priest and attempt to impress on him the need for his support in your request that your parents to either socialize more or see a counselor or both. From my perspective as a "child" (I am 69, my mother is 94) and the only surviving child, I find mom rarely listens to me or will take my advice. (I am still 12 years old, you know, in her sight). I have had to have a couple conferences with her doctor for some details in her medication and care, even to the point to which I asked him to evaluate her for pre-dimentia (she does not have it in his opinion, she is "just bored"). In some cases, third party intervention is necessary. Do NOT expect much help from siblings or other family members - in my experience if they are not personally invested in your parent's care they will be only too happy to let you take the responsability, or be glad to stand on the sidelines and criticize.
Is dad a veteran? If not, is he interested in military history? Then find a local veterans group that holds meetings and take him to one. He'll find many veterans there that he may have a lot in common with - health wise; i.e., using canes, walkers, recovering from stroke, etc. He may strike up some interesting conversations and become friends with some of "the guys" which might make him realize he's not that bad off healthwise and also want to "hang out" with them, not only at the meetings, but they may offer suggestions of joining them at other activities. He might then look forward to going to the meetings or doing other things that these guys enjoying doing. Does he have any interests or is there something in his past that he really liked to do? Gardening - take him to a local garden club meeting; playing games - then what about a local senior center; communications - a local Ham radio club. Get him going to some of these places and hopefully he will meet others there that may spark his interest in those things among other activities. I know someone in their 70s that was going (as an outpatient) to a local rehab/nursing home for exercise classes after heart surgery. While there he met some of guys who were staying there for rehab and they were playing cards. He joined them and continued visits after his rehab ended. Now three years later, my friend still goes back to that place for weekly visits and starts card games with the residents - who look forward to his visit. He's made many new friends and now he feels "needed" by others. There's a lot of easy options out there - just be creative! Good luck.
You mentioned your father is depressed. Has anyone suggested an anti-depressant for him? I am DEFINITELY NOT a pill pusher and don’t believe in medicating just to medicate. However, many elderly get down in the dumps because life does tend to get a little harder for them. Muscles ache, they move slower, eyesight gets poor prohibiting them from fully enjoying some activities, the bowels and bladder can create embarrassing situations and life does get to be somewhat more difficult and not as much fun, and depression sets in creating a vicious circle.

I lost my mother at age 95 and my father-in-law is 86 and lives with us. I noticed they both began to be more and more lack luster and didn’t want to participate in life as much as they used to. Both lost their mates. I took my mother to a gerontologist and he said many elderly suffer from depression for various reasons, health, sadness from losses, physical limitations, chemical imbalances, etc.. So, he suggested we try an anti-depressant. Well, I baulked at that and was a little frustrated because pills seem to be the answer to everything today. Eventually, I did give in and we tried them. I honestly have to admit, they did make a significant difference and life was better for her. My father-in-law has CHF and very depressed after the loss of his wife and medication side effects, so the doctor did put him on an anti-depressant as well. It helped but not as much as with my mother. Maybe the dose needs adjusting, but tricky with the CHF drugs. Always have to consider drug interactions with individuals, as well, because what works for one person may create trouble for others

Anyway, you might want to consider having a discussion with his physician about his current medications to see if one might be creating his depression and if not, then consider the possibility of trying an anti-depressant. There are many options to choose from, so if one doesn’t work, maybe try a different one before giving up. You can always take him off if you don’t see an improvement. Just a thought.
Top Answer
My friend's father was living alone, getting more depressed and socializing less. He got his dad involved in doing some cooking at church when they were feeding the homeless. His father enjoys cooking and feeling needed and has made some new friends. Getting the focus off himself and getting out and doing something for someone else was a big help.

If your Dad isn't able to get around that well, maybe his priest will have some ideas as to where he could be helpful in the church. Everybody has something to give and every little bit helps. Good luck!!
I am in the same situation. My father lives with us and spends a ton of time in his room. I have taken him to senoir centers to get him playing cards - that did not work. I have taken him to the guym where they have silver sneaker classes in hopes he would make some connections - that did not work. He told me that it was a bunch of old people standing around talking. I told him that is the point. I want him to talk to people his own age with the same interests. He has had three strokes and has trouble word finding. We are seeing that it is getting worse because he is not exercising his ability to work find and speak.... so any suggestions to this column will be well taken. thanks.
A bit of history first. My dad is 76 he had a stroke 18 months ago, and broke his hip at the same time. he has gone through various stages. Dad was always social only with close family even before the stroke, from the day he retired his only plan was to watch TV, he is legally blind, before the stroke. After the stroke, Dad had to go to a nursing home for about 90 days to learn to do everything, he could talk but not use his hands to feed himself, dress himself, and mentally he was growing up all over again. After he was able to come back home after the nursing home, he was able to use a walker in the home, but anywhere outside he needed a wheel chair. We had therapy come in for the first 3 months, once the weather was warm enought the doctor would not approve in home therapy. He had to go in for it. I dont live with my father and mother, but my 2 brothers do, Dad would have them do everything for him, and they would. After I saw it, I would make him do for himself. My suggestion, take him out one on one, not necessarily to walk, but for something he would need, make him go shopping for his personal items, underwear or even food he likes. The walk around the store helps, make it a regular thing, and let him know it is his Job. being independent is important, he will get his walking in just doing the day to day things. Tell your mom to back off, and quit nagging, if she is able to help him, she could be talking for him, telling him this and that, so sometimes an outside person he will respond too. Mom didnt like me for a while after Dad's stroke, because many times I had to correct her and hush her. Then he went through where he wouldnt trust anyone but me. so expect different things. Evenutally though, he will see he can do some things, and he will look forward to them and get past the speech issue. Give him time, he has been through a lot!
Evelyn and naheaton have the best answers IMO. Remember, unless a court finds dad incompetent he can do whatever he wants no matter what anyone else thinks. Your interest in your parents is admirable. Don't stop. But as Evelyn suggest, try to find something your dad would like to do or some people who your dad would like to spend time with. You can't make him do what he doesn't want to do. If you found some people your dad would like to hang out with, fine. Ultimately the decision is your dad's, but your dad may need a little help finding some friends to hang out with. You may be able to do that for your dad.
church. or Food. going to men's meetings or preparing food. other than that, have him help you with some kind of homework project. He wants to be "part of something", not the "problem".

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